Skip to content

Council discusses cost for fire dept building

By Anna Jauhola
The city of Lancaster is exploring avenues in which to fund and build a storage building for the fire department. During its regular meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 14, the council approved making a request to the American Legion Gambling Fund for $2,000 to begin building additional funds for the building.
Last year, the city acquired a tax delinquent property to the west of the fire hall and had the house torn down. This location will provide enough space for a 50-by-80-foot building in which to store smaller equipment and vehicles.
Mayor Mike Olson said the department has estimated the building materials, dirt work and concrete, as well as labor will cost about $250,000.
“We budgeted $30,000 for this year and we figured a rough estimate for the dirt work and cement work would be $60,000 max, but closer to $50,000,” Olson said.
The fire department has nearly $110,000 in reserves between the main fund and a CD, said Carol Johnson, city clerk. However, per state statute, every entity within the city must keep at least half, if not up to 70 percent, of its annual operating budget in reserves.
“The fire fund’s budget is about $60,000 a year in general operating expenses,” Johnson said. “If you spent $60,000, you would for sure want $30,000 on hand. A better number to have on hand would be $45,000. … So there’s adequate reserves for the concrete work for sure.”
Olson noted the department would then have to decide how to fund the rest.
The council asked about USDA loan funding, like the city used for the community center, and bonding. In either of those cases, Johnson noted there are costs beyond just building the building, such as engineering and architect fees. She said the engineering fees for the community center alone were almost $100,000.
Councilor Teri Halvorson suggested the possibility of asking local contractors to donate some of their labor to the project to help cut down the costs. Olson said the worst they could say was, “No.” He added the project will likely be done in phases, starting with the concrete slab and later installing the building without insulation. Olson said they could always add insulation later.
For a start, the council approved the gambling fund request. In the meantime, Johnson said they need at least two quotes for the project work. They won’t need to bid the project out as it doesn’t meet the cost threshold.
In other business, the council:
• Approved the all-county hazard mitigation plan. Johnson said each city and township in the county will approve the plan, which then gives them the ability to get FEMA dollars in the event of a disaster.
• Approved an amendment to the city’s rates and fees schedule stating that half of the $5,000 appropriation to the Lancaster Business Association will come from city funds and half from the Liquor Store funds. Johnson said she spoke with Liquor Store Manager Shannon Bowlin about this and she agreed the association’s events benefit the liquor store, so the split makes sense.
• Approved a quote of $3,425 to purchase one bench and two picnic tables for the sports complex.
• Approved applying for a Northwest Regional Arts Center grant to help fund six musical acts during the summer. The grant is $3,600 and requires a 10 percent match from the city, which is $400.
• Reviewed and approv-ed the bills, which included explanation about the $6,000 increase to the city’s property and liability insurance through the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust. This insurance covers all the city buildings, fire department and liquor store. Johnson said the League of Minnesota Cities had not done a building inventory for Lancaster in 10 years, so that increase includes updated building costs. This year’s amount is $24,476.
• Approved transferring the city’s fire contract appropriation of $8,386.91 for 2024.
• Approved an application for a gambling permit from North Red River MN Deer Hunters Association raffle set for the organization’s annual event on Saturday, April 20 at the Lancaster Community Center.
• Approved a resolution approving permit applications for closures of Kittson County CSAH 27 and CSAH 6 in city limits for summer celebrations. These applications are sent to the county highway department for approval.
The next regular meeting is Wednesday, March 13 at 7 p.m.

Leave a Comment